Sunday, January 01, 2006


This blog is prepared with a specific objective to “open the door” in presenting the mystery of God’s revelation to people who do not believe in Him.

It is intended to be a gift of a believer to one who does not believe.

It is also intended to possibly stimulate the thoughts of those who do believe in witnessing to others.


The basis for the blog is a number of papers written with the objective to come to know God. Each subject area dealt with questions the writer wished to understand.

The following briefly describes the chronology and context of some of these works.The first composition dealt with understanding Belief and the gift of Faith.

It was initiated about one year after being reborn in the Spirit on July 23, 1985.

The paper addresses the profound question as to how and why one comes to be chosen by Him, to have Belief and what Belief and Faith mean.

An other introductory effort is the Theater Analogy, (A Script for Life) which emphasizes the role of the Bible as a “script for life”: “Oh, how nice it would be if we had a little manual that gave us a generalized script about life and the future.”

Faith and Belief was followed by a work on the famous, beloved historian, Will Durant. It provides a perspective on the agnostic/atheist view.

This effort logically stimulated a work on Skepticism, detailing the erroneous view of nonbelievers.

Durant’s History of Civilization, and its specific references to Christianity, became a part of the “intellectual fabric” that contributed to the writer’s awakening of the truth of God’s existence.

The doctrine of the Gift of Righteousness was the subject of the next effort. It was cast in a perspective framed by the Father’s, Jesus Christ’s, the Holy Spirit’s and the believer’s witness as made evident in His Word, the Bible.

The next paper, The Pelagian Inclination, speaks to the doctrines of mankind, sin and salvation as framed by the little known, yet awesome 5th century Pelagian - Augustinian confrontation.

This contest dealt with the evolution of the issue of God’s sovereignty versus mankind’s supremacy, an issue that continues to plagues Christian religions today.

The Hidden Doctrine of God’s Wrath delves into the “functioning” of God’s Wrath by examining the cause of His anger and its specific “consequential manifestations” for the nonbeliever.

This was followed by the paper on Unrighteousness, A Different View of Sin. It specifies the difference between the applications of unrighteous sin in the lives of nonbelievers and believers.

This was followed by Judging and Forgiveness, a paper that exemplifies the simplist sin problems in the Christian life.These papers present, in some instances, a different view of traditional teachings.

The writer has not attended Seminary and has no formal training in religion or Bible study. His sole education has been his extensive readings over twenty years, as led and inspired by the Holy Spirit.

Therefore, these views are his findings on the walk in coming to know God. They are not intended to be a dogmatic presentation of theology or doctrine. They are the writers conclusions.

They are meant to encourage the reader to reach their own decisions on what is the most important consideration in one’s lifetime. For to know God is an eternal consideration that breaches all concepts of time and the life as we all know it.Considering this, the writer hopes you, the reader, will enjoy the entries in this blog, a journey in Coming to Know Christ.


This blog borrows from many sources. Appropriate credits are given where obviously required. But this work depends, to a great extent, on His Word, as made manifest in the New American Standard (NAS) Open Bible.

One may ask why the extensive quotes from the Bible when a reference would suffice.The writer hopes that by having direct quotes available, the reader’s creative thought process will also be enhanced.Furthering this hope, God says it best! His inspired authors are the best writers.

The continued fact that the Bible is the world’s first printed book and all time best seller is solid proof of this fact.

Even the most hard-hearted atheist cannot disagree with that success!


The writer’s only credential, as such, in preparing this “work” is that he was a serious nonbeliever for fifty four years of his life!

He possesses an expertise on the subject of sin that exceeds the knowledge and understanding of the greatest divines and the great majority of all who believe in God.

Yes, the writer knows what it means to be a nonbeliever, to be unrighteous, to be lost and lonely, and to know God’s Wrath.

The writer welcomes comments and criticism of the works on this blog with the sincere hope that something more may be gained, hopefully a greater understanding in the walk with the Holy Spirit.

For that is the cost of His discipline, the great hope in growing in Christ, the price and prize of coming to know God, in knowing His love.


I often contemplate today how different life would have been if I had been a true Christian early in life. I am blessed having a great family, a beautiful and loving wife, four outstanding children with eleven grandchildren. And most important of all, a growing relationship with Jesus Christ, a relationship guided by His Holy Spirit.

I became a true Christian in July 1985 at the age of 54! Before that time I was a Christian only in a social/heritage sense.

My oldest son, Otis III, who played football at USC, had talked to me “long and hard” about Christ. That and other incidents led to an extraordinary experience:

My wife’s sister, Barbara Love Bartlett (now with Christ) came to Southern California to attend a Christian International Renewal Conference on the division of Christ’s Church at the University of Southern California. In an attempt to help her summarize what she had learned at the conference, I asked her what was the Trinity? I didn’t know!

In explaining the Trinity she told me of His Holy Spirit. I didn’t know who the Holy Spirit was! I knew of Jesus and God the Father, but I didn’t know about the Holy Spirit!

She told me about the Holy Spirit. I asked her about the word and concept of the Trinity and where could I find that term in the Bible. She told me the word was not in the Bible. I then asked how the word Trinity came to be, and she couldn’t tell me.

I struggled with this consideration of the Holy Spirit and the concept of the Trinity for two days. It was a perplexing struggle for me.Finally, I sat down with my wife’s sister and told her that the answer should be in the Bible. I then opened the Good Book. I opened the Bible and my eyes fell on Matthew 10: 16-20, and at that moment I was baptized in the Spirit!

It happened as simply as that. Yes, I knew something extraordinary had happened. I was flooded with joy. I was amazed and full of wonder. I knew the Holy Spirit had entered my life.I was a very confused fellow for quite awhile after that experience.At first, I didn’t know or really believe in the Bible. I was elated, but I didn’t understand what was happening. I was on the start of a long and vigorous inquiry: why and how did He choose me?

The Bible clearly substantiates that by His grace He chooses us, and while we may be inclined to think the opposite, that is, that we choose Him, His Holy Spirit really coordinates the “call.”


When the Holy Spirit came into my life, that’s when the fun really started! For me, one of the interesting repercussions in being a born-again Christian is the perplexing reaction of people who knew me in my prior life:

· My brother, Cleve, fears that I will come stomping through Maine with Bible in hand, preaching the “good news,” sullying his reputation as a confirmed agnostic.

· Another reaction occurred at a party at the Stanwich Club in Greenwich, Connecticut. A number of very close friends recoiled in shock when I told them of my relationship with Jesus Christ. Many asked me questions, in a delicate matter, as though they were examining some one from the lunatic asylum. “Do you really believe the Genesis account of the creation? “ I replied, “Certainly. It is symbolic, yet who but God could have ordered it!” One person, upon hearing this, offered the observation that, “Man created God. God did not create Man.” I was not surprised or distressed by these reactions.

· When learning of my conversion, my old business associates react with a dismissive, condolent disregard, harboring secret conclusions that they knew it all along: “Otis is really unstable and has always been.”

· Two very close friends visited us at our home about a year after my becoming a Christian. Both are native Californians with advanced degrees from Stanford. They kindly observed that it was such a nice thing for me to be dignifying Western civilization’s greatest myth. They were honestly perplexed by my belief. And they were grateful that I didn’t impose a “hell and brimstone” attitude towards their educated atheism. I told them not to worry about me, that if God wanted them, they would be His. They were troubled by the threat of this possibility!

It is unfortunate that nonbelief is the accepted social position of the cultured, the educated, the financially affluent classes of society. Their collective witness is the denial of God. I know, for that was my story for fifty four years!That is the world we live in, the world that has always existed in terms of its attitude towards God! But for the "choosen", those elect of God there is His Amazing Grace, the final paper in this blog dedicated to you the reader.

Friday, December 30, 2005


Grace is a profound concept and reality that is fundamental to understanding and knowing God. Its consideration is important in coming to know the many gifts provided by belief in Jesus Christ and understanding His love for the believer as manifested in His Grace.

Romans 5:5 “…the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through His Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

It is a wonderful hymn. The song and lyrics express the sentiments and beliefs of millions of Christians. The message bears the truth of many who say, “I Thank God, I Thank God for His choosing me!!” There can be no more fitting introduction on the subject of Grace that the contemplation of these verses.


“Amazing Grace! how sweet the sound - That saved a wretch like me! I once was lost but now am found, Was blind but now I see.

‘Twas Grace that taught my heart to fear, And Grace my fears relieved; How precious did that Grace appear The hour I first believed.

The Lord has promised good to me, His Word my hope secures; He will my shield and portion be As long as life endures.

Thru many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come; ‘Tis Grace hath brought me safe thus far, And Grace will lead me home.

When we’ve been there ten thousand years, Bright shining like the sun, We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise Than we’d first begun.”

“One thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see.”
John 9:25

The importance of the word, Grace, goes beyond a simple definition since it embraces a concept that is powerful and far reaching. That concept goes directly to who God is, as He is revealed to us in the Bible.

The word and concept of Grace evolved from the Greek “charis” meaning a gracious favor or benefit bestowed. Webster states it is “unmerited divine assistance given mankind for his regeneration and sanctification.”

The definition “unearned gift” is commonly used. All these descriptions fall short, in this writer’s humble judgment. Like an innocent sin, they miss the mark. The major passage that substantiates the Christian doctrine of grace recognizes the realization of one of God’s greatest attributes; that this attribute is to be universally displayed by the means of the Church of Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 4:4-7 “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up in Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Jesus Christ, in order that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness towards us in Jesus Christ.

For by grace you have been saved though faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast.”

The doctrine of God’s grace is proclaimed to bring the gift of salvation to all and a specific instruction to those who by Belief are saved:

Titus 2:11-14 “For the grace of God has appeared bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus; who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.”

Chafer advises us that even though God’s grace is proclaimed to all, the instructions of grace are never intended to be imposed on those who do not believe except by the example of those who do believe and in the event when His Holy Spirit preveniently leads the lost nonbeliever to Belief. God’s grace is, truly, His overwhelming expressions of love for those who believe.

"The concept that Grace employs provides a startling contrast to the normal relationship a nonbeliever typically visualizes with God, a “wrath breathing” strong and difficult subservience laced with a burdensome obedience with curses being the reward for failure. The contrast is held in the divine realization that human beings are helpless in this world. They are locked in sin and their only end is death.

Grace declares God is merciful and loving. That he is waiting to embrace the nonbeliever and to assist the believer in answering every need. Grace promises that the seeking nonbeliever will be saved and that he/she will have eternal life. The message of the Gospel - the good news - is that God came to the world, to mankind, to demonstrate His great love through Grace, by acting in Jesus Christ to provide forgiveness and a new life through His teachings and atoning sacrifice on the cross. The good news is that this is reality for those who choose to believe.

Grace not only provides a perfect salvation and eternal keeping for one who believes in Christ, it also provides the instruction for the daily life of the one who is saved."


A doctrinal dispute occurred between the Apostles during the early, formative period of Christianity. This dispute was concerned with the question of whether the traditional Law or Grace furnishes the governing principle of religious practice and individual Christian conduct.

If any distinction is to be understood with respect to the difference between Israel’s privileges under the Mosaic system of the Law and the present privileges of the Church under Grace, distinction must be made between the Law as a rule of life, which none were able to keep perfectly, and the Law as a system which not only set forth high and holy demands upon personal conduct but also provided complete divine forgiveness through the sacrifices.

The final standing of any Jew before God was not based only on the observance of the Law; it also contemplated the sacrifices as a part of gaining forgiveness. In either distinction, forgiveness was based on human effort (works) that resulted in an overall primary focus on the means of worshiping God instead of understanding His Grace, the overwhelming expression of God’s love for those who have Belief.


Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, is rightfully accredited by theologians for the development of Grace as a theological term. Jesus’ teachings, that follow, demonstrate the basis supporting the doctrinal theme of God’s Grace.

God’s Grace provides a loving and comforting invitation to the nonbeliever. For Jesus lovingly and tenderly encourages us:

Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My load is light.”

God’s Grace provides for compassionate consideration and ignores improper religiosity:

Matthew 12: 1-8 “At that time Jesus went on the Sabbath through the grainfields, and His disciples became hungry and began to pick the heads of grain and eat. But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to Him, ‘Behold, Your disciples do what is not lawful to do on a Sabbath.’

But He said to them, ‘Have you not read what David did, when he became hungry, he and companions; now he entered the house of God, and they ate the consecrated bread, which was not lawful for him to eat, nor for those with him, but for the priests alone? Or have you not read the Law, that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple break the Sabbath and are innocent?

But I say to you, that something greater than the temple is here. But if you had known what this means, I DESIRE COMPASSION, NOT A SACRIFICE you would not have condemned the innocent. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.’”

God’s Grace provides mercy at all times:

Matthew 12:9-13 “And departing from there, He went into the synagogue. And behold there was a man with a withered hand. And they questioned Him, saying, ‘Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?’ - in order that they might accuse Him. And he said to them, ‘What man shall be there among you, who shall have one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will he not take hold of it and lift it out?

Of how much more value then is man than a sheep!’ So then it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath. Then He said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand’. And he stretched it out, and it was restored to normal, like the other.”

God’s Grace provides forgiveness:

Matthew 18:21,22 “Then Peter came and said to Him. ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times? Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.’”

God’s Grace has and gives no priority of the believer over one seeking the Lord:

Matthew 20:1-16 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. And when he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius for the day, he sent them into his vineyard.

And he went out about the third hour and saw others standing idle in the market place; and those he said, ‘You go too into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you.’ And so they went. Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did the same thing.

And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing; and he said to them, ‘Why have you been standing idle so long?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You too go into the vineyard.’

And when evening had come, the owner of the vineyard said to the foreman, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last group to the first.’ And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each one received a denarius. And when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more; and they also received each one a denarius.

And when they received it they grumbled at the landowner, saying, ‘These last men have worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the scorching heat of the day.’ But he answered and said to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what is yours and go your way, but I wish to give to this last man the same as you.

Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with what is my own? Or is your eye envious because I am generous?’ ‘Thus the last shall be first, and the first last.’”

God’s Grace is extended to the sinner who believe in Him:

Luke 7:36-50 “Now one of the Pharisees was requesting Him to dine with him. And He entered the Pharisee’s house, and reclined at the table. And behold, there was a women in the city who was a sinner; and when she learned that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume, and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing His feet, and anointing them with perfume.

Now when the pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, ‘If this man were a prophet He would know who and what sort of person this women is who is touching Him, that she is a sinner.’

And Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Simon, I have something to say to you.’ And he replied, ‘Say it teacher.’ ‘A certain moneylender had two debtors: one owed five hundred denari, and the other fifty. When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both. Which of them will love him more?’ Simon answered and said, ‘I suppose the one whom he forgave more.’ And He said to him, ‘You have judged correctly.’

And turning toward the women, He said to Simon, ‘Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears, and wiped them with her hair. You gave Me no kiss; but she, since the time I came in, has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint My head with oil, but she anointed my feet with perfume. For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.’

And He said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’ And those who were reclining at the table with Him began to say to themselves, ‘Who is this man who even forgives sins?’ And He said to the woman, ‘Your faith has saved you; go in peace.’”


Looked at another way, in a historical context, Chafer teaches that there are three Biblical ages: that of Law, that of Grace, and that of the Kingdom.

Each age defines a requirement of human conduct defining the relationship of man/woman to God. The conduct-regulating requirements of each are also differentiated by the role of the Holy Spirit.

The Mosaic system of Law is void of the enablement, for the unsaved and those who have attained Belief, administered by the Holy Spirit in the Age of Grace.

The Age of Grace presents superhuman ideals supported by the indwelling and filling of the believer by the Holy Spirit.

The implementation of the superhuman ideals are directions and “divine beseechings”. They are not commands, but the polite, considerate expression of persuasion extended to those for which it is rightfully expected since they are sponsored by the believer’s Belief on the sanctifying walk with the Holy Spirit.

Romans 12:1 “I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.”

Ephesians 4:1,2 “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love.”

There is a fundamental difference between these directions, “beseechings” and the teachings of the Mosaic Law which imposed a curse on those who failed.

Deuteronomy 28:15 “But it shall come about, if you will not obey the Lord your God, to observe to do all His commandments and His statutes which I charge you today, that all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you.”

(The curses are specified in verses 16 through 68)

God’s Grace, for those with Belief in Jesus Christ, provides an incredibly different life under grace compared to life under the Law:

Romans 8:1,2 “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Jesus Christ. For the Law of the Spirit of life in Jesus Christ has set you free from the Law of sin and death.”

God’s grace provides that there can be no separation of the believer from the love of God.

Romans 8: 38,39 “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, not things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”


The concept that Grace employs provides a startling contrast to the normal relationship a nonbeliever typically visualizes with God, a “wrath breathing” strong and difficult subservience laced with a burdensome obedience with curses being the reward for failure.

The contrast is held in the divine realization that human beings are helpless in this world. They are locked in sin and their only end is death. Grace declares God is merciful and loving. That he is waiting to embrace the nonbeliever and to assist the believer in answering every need.

Grace promises that the seeking nonbeliever will be saved and that he/she will have eternal life. The message of the Gospel - the good news - is that God came to the world, to mankind, to demonstrate His great love through Grace, by acting in Jesus Christ to provide forgiveness and a new life through His teachings and atoning sacrifice on the cross.

The good news is that this is reality for those who choose to believe.
Grace not only provides a perfect salvation and eternal keeping for one who believes in Christ, it also provides the instruction for the daily life of the one who is saved.


All God does is offer His hand to save you, to help you. Like an old fisherman leaning from his dory, extending his hand to a drowning slave to sin wallowing in the sea of disbelief.

God proceeds like a loving parent coming to offer wondrous gifts, gifts such as Salvation, Righteousness, Faith, Love, Eternal Life, and the further gift of understanding this benevolence by the revelation of His Word.

And He shows you the Way by the “good news” provided by someone we can identify with, His Son, Jesus Christ. And He gives us His Holy Spirit so that we may be comforted in the conviction of our sins and the sanctifying walk through life.

To be saved means to grasp the fisherman’s hand; to have the offered gifts means they should be humbly received with some measure of gratefulness. But that hand must be grasped, the gifts knowingly received.

And it is all absolutely a free gift by His grace! As one humble believer said, "The only thing free in this life is Jesus Christ!

Are these analogies meaningful? Does any of this mean anything to you the reader? That meaning is the hope of this message!



Forgiveness and Judging are two fundamental doctrines of the Christian Church. They are two major areas where the Christian’s conduct is apparent before all, Christian and non Christian alike. They are simple yet complex teachings. For anyone can understand them.

The Bible’s instructions on each are very clear. Yet they become stumbling stones for the believer. They are easily comprehended but not easily practiced. They exemplify the difference between the understanding of a doctrine and being able to follow it.

A great lesson results from one of the easiest yet most complex personal issues bearing on how we relate to others. This is the simple practice of righteousness as we deal with other people in the every day experience. It is a simple example of the presence or absence of the Christian fruit as exercised in the Christians daily life.

This, then, is a simple teaching of God. It is a teaching that reaches into the complex human nature and defines what that nature must do when conformed by faith to a righteous Christian perspective through a transformed Christian nature guided by the Holy Spirit on a walk to glorify Jesus Christ.

Judging and forgiving represent two fundamental areas of activity involving personal interrelationships, whether between husband and wife, parent and child, relatives, friends, people in social groups of all types, individuals in business, churches, schools, wherever people converse and associate with each other.

The two pillars of Christian conduct - Judging and Forgiveness - turn the world upside down in terms of how a Christian looks at things as compared to a nonbeliever. You will not judge! You will forgive! How can this possibly make sense to judgmental, unforgiving, nonbelieving mankind, whose ignorance and prejudice is shaped by being blind to the evident reality of God’s existence? (Rom 1:18-22)

What follows places a major consideration in coming to understand what Scripture teaches about the separate yet intertwined concepts of two minor conduct issues regarding human relations in secular society dominated by nonbelievers, but, two dominant and major doctrines of the Christian Church that proclaims the love, peace and righteousness of Jesus Christ.


There are three primary domains of forgiveness:

One is the act of God forgiving the sins of new and existing believers. This includes the forgiveness needed for salvation and the receiving of the gifts of Faith, Righteousness and Eternal Life.

The second involves the pardon of personal offenses occurring between Christians, so that we may be free from personal hurts, anger and bitterness.

The third are those occasions where one Christian reproves another for a general, non personal sin.

Of all these applications of forgiveness, the tying of the doctrine of Judging to the doctrine of Forgiveness comes home by the linking of God’s love.

The new covenant relationship with God is through Jesus Christ. The new commandment given by Jesus is simply stated and is awesome considering its simplicity:

John 13:34,35 “A new commandment I give you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Forgiveness is always based on love. This is exemplified by God’s love to the believer, the basic reason for His forgiveness of those - -

· Who turn away from the world.

· Who turn from their old sinful state.

· Who knowingly turn away from their old nature as nonbelievers.

· Who turn to Jesus Christ.

Love is the motive that encourages discernment when personal offenses occur between individuals. It removes the “rough edges” of our awkwardness in relating to each other. It presents the reality of the Holy Spirit’s involvement.

Love is the basis for correction by reproof of others who are experiencing misconduct problems, the sins of a believer. It is the catalyst that reminds us that His Scripture is there to guide us. It is the continuing inspiration for good feelings that dampen and eliminate emotions cultivated and magnified by anger and bitterness.

The attitude of love is pervasive and provides the “locking in step” with the Holy Spirit on these vital issues of believer relations. For God is love. (1John 4:8)

Luke 7:47 “For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.”


God’s forgiveness of the believer is established by belief in Jesus Christ.
Acts 10:43 “Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins.”

And anyone who believes in Him will certainly confess and repent of their sin. For God has commanded us to repent. The first command came from John the Baptist:

Matthew 3:1,2 “Now in those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’”

What is repentance? It is the turning from the life of the world to God, turning from unrighteous sin to God’s righteousness, turning from disbelief to belief, from mistrust to Faith in God, as manifested in the persons of the Father, the Son, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit.

The command to repent was taken up by Jesus Christ:

Mark 1:14,15 “And after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’”

Matthew 4:17 “From the time Jesus began to preach and say, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

And His disciples took up the command in their preaching:

Mark 6:12 “And they went out and preached that mankind should repent.”

Acts 2:38 “And Peter said to them, ‘Repent and let each one
of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the
forgiveness of your sins;’”

For repentance provides three great blessings: 1) being baptized in the name of Jesus; 2) the forgiveness of sin; 3) the salvific gifts of Faith and Righteousness.

Acts 2:38 “And Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’”

Acts 3:19
“Repent therefore and return, that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord;”

Repentance, therefore, is a basic decision by the new believer to accept God, and to show the fruit of that acceptance by a change in one’s life.

And that decision is the basis of His forgiveness, a forgiveness patiently sought by God by His leading of the new believer to the truth:

Romans 2:4 “Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?”

Once repentance is established, God’s forgiveness is a profound, redeeming act, for it is by Jesus’ blood that we are forgiven and saved by His grace:

Ephesians 1:7 “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the richness of His grace.”

Colossians 1:13,14 “For He delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

Colossians 2:13,14 “And when you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having cancelled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us and which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.”

We know from what has been said that he forgives us. That repentance is required. We know that we are to be forgiving of others. He also commands us to confess our sins so that we may be cleansed.

1John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”


Having been commanded to repent, we are also commanded to forgive, as we have been forgiven. Each time a believer recites the Lord’s Prayer, we ask for forgiveness and we commit to God that we will forgive others!

Matthew 6:11 “And forgive us our debts (our trespasses/ transgressions ), as we also have forgiven our debtors” (those who transgress/trespass against us).

But even though we make this commitment to God, we may broach this promise by being unforgiving. This is a major sin, for which we should seek forgiveness from God.

Yet the sin turns on itself because we do not forgive others, in violation of our oath given in the Lord’s Prayer. So, where we seek forgiveness from God, we are sinful and violate His forgiveness by our not being forgiving of others:

Matthew 6:14-15 “For if you forgive men for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, then your heavenly father will not forgive your transgressions.”

Mark 11:25 “And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your transgressions.”

Often times instead of being forgiving we become judgmental. We are then thrown into double jeopardy, falling back to the practices of nonbelievers who exercise unforgiving, judgmental traits through subdued anger, bitterness and viciousness.

So God commands us to be forgiving, to be discerning, to have an attitude founded in love of being forgiving.

Colossians 3:12,13 “And so, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just at the Lord forgave you, so also you should.”

Ephesians 4:32 “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ has forgiven you.”

But knowing this, are there situations where our discernment leads us to manage our forgiveness so that the effect may be more meaningful?


Following God’s Biblical teaching of repentance and confession, does one who has offended another have an obligation to repent and confess their sin before forgiveness is granted by the offended party?

Put another way, should one who has been offended wait to hear the confession of error and apology before granting forgiveness? These are simple questions, yet there is no clear answer in Scripture except by considering how God forgives.

God expects confession and repentance. He expects this from a contrite, sincere expression of the heart. So, why shouldn’t we expect the same? The command to forgive must assume, in most instances, the request to be forgiven by the offending party. This request is typically a confession of guilt, of being wrong.

First of all, Scripture teaches that repentance and confession is required before God grants forgiveness. That Jesus Christ personally reproves the believer:

Revelations 3:19 “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; be zealous therefore, and repent.”

Second, Scripture also commands believers to be unconditionally forgiving.

Matthew 18:21,22
“Then Peter came and said to Him, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.’”

Yet personal repentance and confession are conditions before forgiveness is given by God.

John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us of all unrighteousness.”

Should a Christian ask another Christian, who is in a general sin state, to confess and repent?

This appears to be the right course, for that is the provision of reproving the brother and sister in Christ. These are questions the believer must answer in a discerning attitude walking with His Spirit. For spiritual discernment is required. To be meaningful, a contrite heart must appreciate the benevolent spirit of the one who is forgiving.

The act of forgiveness must be measured by the intent of the attempt to reconcile, by the healing that is required, by the remedy needed to salve the wound. For when Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34), He sought a forgiveness of a specific offense. He did not request a general forgiveness of sins of all people without the obligation and necessity of individual confession and repentance.


In considering our obligation to forgive others, we often enter into a mode of thinking where we become judgmental, where we confuse the issue of judging with forgiveness. Judging is an important concept that all Christians must understand. It is a broad subject with many applications.

The six applications of judging in the Christian’s life deal with:

1) The primary role of God as judge (James 4:12; Psalms 96:10-13).

2) The specific ministry of Jesus Christ (John 5:22).

3) That role relegated to secular governing institutions (Romans 13:1).

4) The everyday exercise of judgment in working with others in the secular domain and in performing normal daily domestic and work tasks.

5) The corporate Biblical responsibility of the Church (Matthew 18:15-17).

6) The personal judging of others by Christians, the principle subject of this paper.

It is important that we understand the general concepts that deal with judging, and the specific focus concerning what Scripture teaches us and how it relates to forgiveness.

In a general context, judging embroils the deep seated deliberations of knowledge, understanding and wisdom. It concerns the intellectual appetite guided by God in exercising discernment, that acuteness of perception that leads to sound determinations. It scrutinizes the necessity to investigate, to examine, to evaluate, to distinguish between alternatives, to prefer, to approve, to select, to decide.

Judging demands integrity of both the thought and the process by which the thought is derived, no matter how trivial or complex the issue. And personal judging of others is a complex issue, despite how simple it seems. Its apparent simplicity betrays us and leads us into sin and away from the teachings on forgiving.

Personal judgment of another person is a loaded gun with a hair trigger. The mechanism of judgment is totally reliant on the tenuous, feeble moral-instinct of the one with the finger on the trigger. There is no going back once the trigger is pulled.

Once the judgment is made and stated, the potential damage is realized. Ruined friendships, destroyed relationships between love-ones, neighborly disruptions, even good feelings in professional standings result from misjudging others. Why is this true? Because our judging others is born of an imperfect motive, a motive impelled and based on our own imperfection.

Even though judging should be deliberate, in the great majority of instances of personal judgment, it is not. That is the reason the act of personally judging others is so precarious. In most circumstances, judging should be embraced in a system of authority. It does require a maturity of knowledge, understanding, wisdom and introspection, the examination of one’s own thoughts and feelings.

Judging implies finality, and if the judgment is wrong, the results can be devastating. Instead of being forgiving, we often become trapped in a judgmental attitude.

The analogy expands when we understand that each of us have the gun in our hand. That, we often pull the trigger accidentally, inadvertently, inappropriately, sometimes premeditatedly, as a reaction to a hurt, as a compulsion to control, as a defense against another’s actions, as a pronouncement of our own self-righteousness, for many wrong reasons.

Judging should be the result of well-thought-out convictions, the mental process of becoming assured, of becoming certain about basic ideas of life, living and relating to others. In a general way, the process of arriving at a conviction asks how we justify claims to know, whether we can be wrong about what we know, whether we really have the facts when we believe that we know something. And, importantly, by what standards and authority do we base our knowing.

It is important to understand the strength of the conviction upon which the judgment relies. Is it an opinion, a finding of belief, a specific knowledge? Certainly, opinion is the weakest conviction, followed by belief, followed by knowing.

To illustrate, the Christian concept of judging evolves around when to apply and withhold personal judgment of others. One may have an opinion that a brother or sister is in sin, and that opinion is the basis for a conviction that the person is sinning. But, that opinion may be strengthened by the corroborating testimony of another that the person is in sin.

The opinion may now be strengthened to the point of being a conviction of belief because of the testimony supported by two witnesses. History has proven that such belief may be seriously erroneous, however. Evidence supporting the belief is certainly required. The opinion or belief may become a reliable conviction based on knowledge when one actually sees the person sin. For seeing the sin is knowledge based on evidence.

But, as will be seen by that which follows, even this provision will lead to error if the judgment of another is not based on Spiritual discernment with a loving attitude based on a motivation of forgiveness.


One of the quests of our Christian duty relates to understanding the Scripture’s teaching on judging. Judging becomes a mirror of our character, a sharpening stone by which we learn about ourselves from our own conduct.

We can tweak a bit of understanding from the old saying, “The fault we see in others oft times exist in ourselves.” For we know that both the Old and New Testaments affirm God as the only qualified judge. James confirms this while instructing us that the judgment of others can be considered slander and a misuse of the Law:

James 4:11-12 “Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother, or judges his brother, speaks against the law, and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law, but a judge of it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and destroy; but who are you who judge your neighbor?”

One lesson here is that the Law is a teacher of the individual; it is not the standard by which we judge others. It is the measurer of our own personal conduct. It doesn’t prohibit one’s conduct; it provides an understanding of conduct, as Paul has taught us in Romans 3:20, .... “for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin”, and Galatians 3:24 “Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ....” But James is very specific that we are not to judge our neighbor. He is very specific in telling us “there is only one Lawgiver and Judge.”

We know that Scripture teaches us that we must not lightly assume the right to judge and condemn others. For we must consider seriously his directions in Matthew 7:1-5:

“Do not judge lest you be judged. And why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”

After warning us about judging our neighbor James also warns us, as Matthew has, that judging another will sponsor God’s judgment:

James 5:9 “Do not complain brethren, against one another, that you yourselves may not be judged; behold the judge is standing right at the door.”

Luke instructs us that other’s faults are a call for forgiveness:

Luke 6:36,37 “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. And do not judge and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned.”

But, what is this? What has been said here? “And do not judge and you will not be judged;” and “For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.”

The Bible clearly warns us to avoid judging. But if we are to judge, we will be judged in turn. Further, that in the way we judge, we will be judged. For if we judge with an unforgiving heart, that judgment is self-seeking, quenching the Holy Spirit. (1Thes 5:19)

The warning continues. Paul reminds us in Romans 2:1-3, to pass judgment on matters that certainly require discernment, such as the blatant, hostile acts of nonbelievers (Romans 1:18-32) may lead to error, especially when we commit the same sins we see and judge in others.

“Therefore you are without excuse, every one of you who passes judgment, for in that you judge one another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same thing. And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things. And do you suppose this, O’ Man, when you pass judgment upon those who practice such things and do the same things yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God?”

What are those “same things?” A careful reading and thoughtful understanding is required of these “things.” They are explained in profound detail in Romans 1:24-32. Drink deep of this revelation of His Word:

“Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, that their bodies might be dishonored among them...... For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also men abandoned the natural function of the women and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their errors.

And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and, although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but give hearty approval to those who practice them.”

What are these sins? They are based on the primordial sin of disbelief. Because of this disbelief, and the resulting distrust of God, specific manifestations of His Wrath take the form of sin in the nonbeliever’s life!

These are the sins that Paul warns about judging, when they appear as unrighteous conduct in the life of the believer. And for good reason! If a believer practices such things, that person is probably judged already, since that individual is acting like a nonbeliever!

Besides this, Paul points to an attitude of judging in these passages that tends to breed other sins, such as the assumption of moral superiority, that which is called the Pharisaic attitude (Matthew 23), where we look down our noses at others with disdain, with an unloving attitude, with a silent yet pervasive sense of offensive disgust, all of this being veiled in a cloak of “righteous” hypocrisy.


In terms of judging, we are not to be concerned about nonbelievers, for they are judged already and subject to His Wrath (1Corinthians 5:12,13; Romans 1:18). The believer’s task is a different one in aiding the Holy Spirit’s convicting work in leading nonbelievers to Christ.

Teaching the lessons of Romans 14:1-18 regarding judging differences of doctrinal conviction, the often divisive point that separates Christians of one religion from another, Lawrence O. Richards helps us understand. He teaches, “Paul says we must see Jesus as sole Lord and each other as His servants. So each believer is responsible to the Lord, not to the conscience of other Christians.” That, “Christian unity is based on (1) the freedom of each individual to be responsible to Jesus; (2) a nonjudgmental approach to differences of conviction; (3) a willingness to consider others when deciding whether or not to use one’s freedom to follow one’s own convictions.”

What wonders would accrue between different Christian sects and religions if we truly understood and practiced Richard’s teaching.


All of the verses quoted before impose a dilemma for the believer, for it is easy to be confused about the Bible’s teachings concerning the judging of others. For we are guided to seek Christian discernment as contrasted to a judgmental attitude, which suggests thinking and proceeding in a careful, deliberate way:

1Kings 3:9 “So give Thy servant an understanding heart to judge Thy people to discern between good and evil.”

We are commanded to restore others in sin, which means we must exercise our powers to be first of all discerning, yet assertive when there is error:

James 5:19,20 “My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth, and one turns back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from error of his way will save his soul from death, and will cover a multitude of sins.”

We are commanded to be spiritual and gentle in restoring others in sin:

Galatians 6:1 “Brethren, even if a man is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a person in a spirit of gentleness, lest you too be tempted.”

We are to proceed sensitively, deliberately:

Matthew 18:15-16 “And if your brother or sister sins, go and reprove in private; if he or she listens to you, you have won your brother or sister. But if he or she does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED.”

Understanding these directions and the warnings stated before, what then are we to do?

In a large sense, the Bible’s revelation is provided to help us make judgments. It provides the guideline of coming to and implementing sound conclusions about others. Discernment, which may be applied in all things, demands the knowledge and understanding of God’s standards as we relate to other human beings, especially to sisters and brothers in Christ.

For the Christian, the greatest errors in judging appear to be:

- Making the judgment to ignore or deny God, and by that judgment, to ignore and deny His teachings.

- The personal judgment of others in contradistinction to what He teaches in Scripture.

- Not accepting and understanding the balance between discernment and judging in relating to Christian brothers and sisters.

- Proceeding without a loving attitude and spirit of forgiveness.

- Proceeding with a technical understanding of what the Bible teaches in absence of the very personal, very real revelation and counsel of the Holy Spirit secured by prayer!

To know, understand and be wise about such matters is the result of a deep commitment to God and the seeking of His guidance. For the prevalent attitude of mankind is to be critical in judging others as a measure of one’s personal standard, a standard that is typically warped by an individual’s predilections, personal problems and spiritual immaturity.

The Spiritual believer seeks His counsel in the continuing walk with His Holy Spirit. The following prayer is relevant:

Psalm 119: 66 “Teach me good discernment and knowledge, For I believe in Thy commandments.”


To complete the gun analogy, the inclination to be judgmental should be compromised by a discerning, forgiving and loving heart.

There is no gun here!

Instead, we have Christ and the indwelling Holy Spirit in us, the capacity to discern, and by discernment, to take the initiative to act in love and forgiveness, where the energy of judgment is transferred to the miracle that discernment, forgiveness and love derives, as a sanctifying step with the Holy Spirit in glorifying Jesus Christ (John 16:14).

But we are commanded to hate and avoid evil that compromises and occasionally obliterates God's love!

Rom 12:9 "Let love be without hypocricy. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good."

What may we conclude from all of this? When we come to the point where we wish to judge others, we must understand a few things about ourselves and our relationship with God.

· We must understand that we cannot make another person righteous. That is a gift of God (Romans 5:17).

· We cannot convict another of their sins. That determination is a lonely decision by each called individual as guided by His Holy Spirit (John 16:8).

· We cannot give another or even ourselves Faith. That is also another gift of God (Ephesians 2:8).

· We cannot forgive sin. Only God can do that (Mark2:5-10). Following this, we cannot confess Christ for another. That is another singular experience between an individual and God (Romans 10:9, 10).

· We cannot give another the determination called Belief;
God does not and will not give this as a gift, as far as we know. Belief is a conviction preveniently obtained by the individual on the walk coming to know God and in accepting Jesus Christ (Romans 1:19).

· And even our omniscient God cannot confess sin for an individual, although He knows what those sins are (1John 1:9).

· Yet, we can forgive, but only in a sense of love, for even this act is guided by the intervention of His Holy Spirit.

· So much as God cannot make an individual confess love for Him (1John 4:7-10). For that is a human responsibility, an individual determination, the magnificent acknowledgment of our God given free-will to choose, no matter how restricted or confined that capability is prior to coming to know Him.

With these truths what power, authority, justification do we have to judge and forgive separate from God? None!

We may lead, we may suggest, we may encourage, we may witness by example, but all of this is done through the power of His Holy Spirit.

Yes, we can even forgive, but this action is also compelled by our new nature in Christ, the new nature defined in relationship to His Holy Spirit (Romans 8). If it is the discipline of a brother or sister, we act through His Spirit in love (Hebrews 12). If it means reproving, it is done through the keen sense of walking with and being filled by His Holy Spirit (Galations 6:1).

Richards advises us, “Human beings are not competent to call another’s motives or practices into question. Even when actions are clearly wrong, forgiveness, not condemnation, is the appropriate response.”

So we are wrongheaded, offensive, and ineffectual when we judge apart from the Spirit. More particularly, we are deeply in sin when we attempt to judge without Spiritual discernment and a forgiving heart.

The following version of Galatians 6:1 comes from a new edition of the New testament, authored by Eugene H. Peterson, Professor of Spiritual Theology at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia. The book is titled “The Message.” It is written in a contemporary idiom. You may wish to compare it with the quote stated before from the NAS Open Bible (Page 15).

“Live creatively friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day’s out. Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived.”

Apart from where we are guided by Scripture, we are free from the responsibility of judging others. Our obligation is to relate to others in love and a spirit of forgiveness.

The personal measurement of our discernment, the barrier to our impulsive judgment, the prevailing wisdom imparted to us from God to be forgiving, all of this suggests that our relationship with others evolves as a function of our growth in Christ, our walk with His Holy Spirit, our coming to understand and know His love.


Returning to the subject of theology, all theologians bow to the practical lessons contemplated in Scripture on how one Christian relates to another, no matter what religious order or doctrinal persuasion exists.

The study of God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, including the branches of Systematic Theology embraced in Angelology (Angels), Anthropology (Mankind), Hamartiology (Sin), Soteriology (Salvation), Ecclesiology (the Church), Christology (Jesus Christ), Pneumatology (the Holy Spirit) and the various other fields including Natural, Exegetical, Biblical, Dogmatic, Historical and Practical Theology, all fall into the background when considering the very simple issue defined by the attitude beheld in the act of judging and forgiving others.

We can surrender all study and worship those Christian Saints who understand and practice God’s teaching on this easily-understood but difficult-to-follow subject. For even though theology’s main emphasis is based on how mankind relates to God, the essence of our relationship to God is defined in terms of how we relate to others.

The two pillars of Christian conduct - Judging and Forgiveness - frame an almost impossible obligation for the believer. Asking a believer to be forgiving and nonjudgmental of others rubs against the grain of the normal instinct of the human nature.

This teaching proposes the destruction of the nest of ruinous ways that promote gossip, bitterness, infractions, jealousy, envy, disputes, anger, hostility, mean-spiritedness - conduct issues more typically identified with the nonbeliever.

The following of these doctrines provide a personal test of one’s walk with His Holy Spirit, a measure of one’s progress in being sanctified, being set aside from the world and being made holy. It provides a verification of how much a believer has come to know and understand Christ’s commandment, as stated before to love others. (John 13:34,35) In a larger sense, it provides a standard by which one who professes love for God shows the miracle of God’s grace, love and righteousness in the believer’s transformed nature.

Besides the inherent natural inclination to ignore or deny these teachings, they are difficult doctrines. They impose a certain attitude as to the way we look at ourselves in terms of our personal relationships. They provide a continuing reflection as to the way believers succeed and fail in fulfilling the obligation of being a Christian.

Truly, the doctrines of Judging and Forgiveness has given the believer a severe test in understanding the relationship and walk with His Holy Spirit as measured by what Christ would have us do in our relationship with others.



The evolution of the Christian Bible begins with the Hebrew Scriptures, which are characterized in Romans as being the “Law and the Prophets,” the Old Testament (Rom 3:21). The reason for this is the simple fact that Christians were first of all Jews. But the new Church was not founded on the Hebrew Scriptures; it was established on the distinctive being of a person - to Jesus of Nazareth, crucified, dead and buried, but “designated Son of God in power ... by His resurrection from the dead.” (Rom 1:4)

Jesus wrote no book. His teachings were conveyed by word of mouth and personal example. What Jesus said, the word-of-mouth conveyance of His teachings, the historical events pertaining to what He said, were lovingly recollected and documented by His hearers, His Apostles and Disciples. These early writings became with various letters the eventual “confession of Faith,” the inspired written Word which now comprises the New Testament. The exalted process leading to the formalization of the Canon of Scripture evolved over the first four hundred years of Christian history.

The Bible was held as an exclusive intellectual property of the Church, until the coincident development of the printing press and the explosive generation of the Protestant movement in the early 16th century, a period of twelve hundred years. Nevertheless, the Bible served as the foundation for the developing theology of the Church during this extensive time period by a small number of thoughtful, literate theologians who studied the Word and used it as a foundation for their speculations on what it taught.


The first major resolutions in the developing theology of Christianity dealt with two mighty struggles regarding the nature of Christ and the Trinity. These struggles are characterized as the Trinitarian and Christological controversies. They vigorously evolved during the second, third, fourth and fifth centuries (400 years!), including the Catholic and Greek Orthodox Churches as we know them now.

The Trinitarian definition dealt with the relationship of Jesus Christ, the Son, and the Father as persons. It determined that Christ was of the same essence as the Father and not subordinate to Him. The Trinity, as a Biblical doctrine, came into effect recognizing this Truth while, at the same time, determining the Spirit as the third person of one God in essence.

The start of the resolution of the Trinitarian conflict, at the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D., marked a major event in the Church’s and Western civilization’s histories. It initiated the reconciliation of the informal structure of the Christian Church and the formalized secular institution of the Roman Empire through the remarkable leadership of the Emperor Constantine, who was not overly religious, whose political power became a significant instrument of the Holy Spirit in exercising this stage of God’s plan for mankind and His Church.

The result of this was the eventual structuring of the Roman Catholic Church, where the Church and the Roman Empire joined as partners in the conquering, subjugation and conversion of the European nations and peoples. The resolution of the conflict was finalized at the Council of Constantinople in the year 381, and resulted in the following doctrine within the Niceno - Constantinopolitian Creed:

“We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father;”

The formulation of the Trinitarian doctrine framed the definition of the complex person of Jesus Christ. The famed reformed theologian, Louis Berkoff, instructs us in his History of Christian Doctrines,

“The decision to which the trinitarian controversy led, namely, that Christ as the Son of God is consubstantial with the Father and therefore very God, immediately gave birth to the question of the relation between the divine and the human nature in Christ.”

The Christological events dealt with the person of Jesus Christ and the logical contradiction suggested by one having both a divine and human nature, a problem that still bothers some religions today, religions that either deny Christ being the Son of God (Joshua’s Witnesses; Islam, 7th Day Adventist, Mormonism) or deny His divine and human nature. As with the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D., the Council of Chalcedon in the year 451 provided the beginning for the final resolution of the Christological definition by the issuance of the following specific statement of the doctrine of the person of Christ:

“We then, following the holy Fathers, all with one consent, teach men to confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the same perfect in Godhead and also perfect in manhood; truly God and also truly man, of reasonable soul and body; consubstantial with us according to manhood; in all things like unto us, without sin; begotten before all ages of the Father according to the Godhead, and in these latter days, for us and for our salvation, born of the virgin Mary, the Mother of God, according to the manhood; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, to be acknowledged in two natures, inconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably, the distinction of natures being by no means taken away by union, but rather the property of each nature being preserved, and concurring in one Person and one subsistence, not parted or divided into two persons, but one and the same Son, the Only-begotten, God the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ; as the prophets from the beginning have declared concerning Him, and the Lord Jesus Christ Himself has taught us, and the Creed of the Holy Fathers has handed down to us.”

The Christological and Trinitarian disputes were fundamental events that brought the Church to a point of understanding itself, in a very important sense. The developing doctrines pertaining to God (Theology Proper), Jesus Christ (Christology), the Holy Spirit (Pneumatology) and the Church (Ecclesiology) found their beginnings in the Spirit inspired consensus facilitated by these centuries of Spirit led dialectics.


At a later time, starting in the fifth century, another important controversy immerged that dealt with what now relates to the doctrines of Mankind, Sin and Salvation. This controversy eventually became the basis for the evolving definition of Anthropology (The doctrine of mankind), Hamartiology (The doctrine of sin), and Soteriology (the doctrine of salvation) within the discipline of Systematic Theology as studied today.

These theological disciplines evolved exclusively in the Roman Church as a result of a momentous confrontation between the ideas of an English monk named Pelagius and the revered promulgator of Christian theology, Augustine.

This confrontation specifies an important contrast in the theological priority and interpretation of God’s Grace, as Grace interacts with mankind’s freedom and ability to choose.

The confrontation was so intense on the issues of Human Freedom and Grace that it appeared to subordinate His greatest gift, the gift of Jesus Christ as a propitiation for mankind’s sin, allowing the alleviation of the Adamic heritage, by providing the gifts of righteousness, the conviction called Faith, and eternal life through the guidance of His Holy Spirit.

Following, and in a sense summarizing, the rationalism of the Gnostic heresies that occurred at the beginning of Christianity, the Pelagian conflict provided a prominent dialectical arena in a historic framework that has pulled on theology’s intellectual coattails for over fifteen hundred years regarding Sin, Salvation, mankind’s freedom to choose, Predestination and Grace!

The answers for many questions remain confused today regarding the relationship of God and humanity as we know and understand it. The peculiar, antagonistic, substantial differences between various Christian religions, as to how and why they celebrate God and view His purpose in Salvation, have their delineated heritage from the Pelagian/Augustinian conflict.


The soul of the Pelagian thesis and its system of thought is human freedom, emphasizing mankind’s moral adequacy and capability in seeking and achieving the ethical life and God, as opposed to the Augustinian system which acknowledges the totality of mankind’s depraved nature and concludes that it is by God’s Grace, and only by God’s Grace, that Salvation and true freedom is attained.

The confrontation evolved on the intrinsic, inherent, constitutional nature of Sin and Grace, doctrines that, heretofore, had not been defined and resolved in the deliberations of the Church.

This 5th Century event, therefore, was an intellectual frontier, one of those defining moments of history which would establish new directions and change the course of Christian thought forever!

Louis Berkoff reminds us, “The Holy Spirit was guiding the Church, often through shame and confusion, into the clear atmosphere of truth.”

The Pelagian/Augustinian confrontation was to have a lasting impact on the evolving teachings of Catholic and Protestant Christianity. It provides the answers to many questions, such as is redemption a primary work of God or of mankind? Is it by the initiative of an individual that Belief and Faith are obtained? Or is Belief and Faith a complete gift of God’s Grace, a gift predestined by Him? What is the meaning of the Adamic heritage? Is God truly the Sovereign? What is the roll of mankind’s God-given free will?


The Pelagian/Augustinian conflict turns on the antithesis of Sin and Grace. Their consideration deals with historic, fundamental doctrines that are as important to the believer and the Church today as when they were first evolved in the 5th Century.

· Human freedom.
· The fall of mankind.
· The regeneration and conversion of mankind.
· The eternal purpose of redemption.
· The nature and operation of the Grace of God.

Pelagius believed that Adam was created by God sinless, and entirely competent to all good, with an immortal spirit and a mortal body. He was endowed with reason and free will. With his reason he was to have dominion over irrational creatures; with his free will he was to serve God.

Freedom, Pelagius held, is the supreme good, the honor and glory of mankind. Freedom is the sole basis of the ethical relation of mankind and God, who would have no unwilling service. It consists of the liberum arbtrium, the freedom of choice and the equal ability to do good or evil.

The initial reaction by many is that this argument and line of reasoning has a great appeal, an appearance of truth. On the surface, Pelagius presents an ideal philosophic overview that appeals to the ego, the sense that freedom is goodness, the satisfaction that results from dominance thinking, the natural gratification derived from having control of decisions, especially controlling decisions regarding religion.

Pelagius was a 5th century monk from that precious island region now known as England, where freedom, honor, and chivalry were considered virtues in the legendary mytho/historic court of King Arthur, of the same approximate time and place; where, eventually, the highest secular standards were to evolve in the governing of peoples.

Although history accords him no special honor, his inquiry prompted one of the great dialectics of all time, a debate whose heritage lasts with us today.

He became a cause of Augustine’s greatness, a cause that excited the development of key Church doctrines, a cause for understanding the other inclinations of believers, such as the natural inclination to favor their own opinions, speculations, judgments, while ignoring God’s guidance as provided in His Word (Gal 3:1-3).


Pelagius prescribes that the ability to do good necessarily belongs to freedom, because mankind cannot will good without at the same time being able to will evil. Without the power of contrary choice, the choice of good itself would lose its freedom, and therefore its moral value.
He maintained that the right use of the freedom of choice leads to a state of holiness; the abuse of it, to a state of bondage under sin. The state of the will is affected by its acts, and settles towards a permanent character of good and evil. Every act goes to a moral state or habit; and habit is in turn the parent of new acts.

Perfect freedom is one with moral necessity, in which mankind no longer can do evil because he will not do it, and must do good because he wills to do it. The finite will is united with the divine in joyful obedience, and raised above the possibility of apostasy.

Refuting the essential lesson in Romans 1-8, Pelagius holds that the sin of Adam consisted in a single isolated act of disobedience to the divine command. This single excusable act of transgression brought no consequences, either to the soul or body of Adam, still less to his posterity, who all stand or fall for themselves. There is, therefore, according to the Pelagian system, no original sin, and no hereditary guilt. Sin is not born with mankind; it is not a product of nature, but of the will. Mankind is born both without virtue and without vice, but with the capacity for either. Mankind’s corruption is ascribed solely to the habit of evil, which grows in power the longer it works and the further it spreads. The universality of sin must be attributed to the power of evil example and evil custom.


The Pelagian thesis is theologically speculative while the Augustinian system is based on Scripture and, therefore, represents “the weight of divine wisdom inherent in the Word.” (Philip Schaff)

In contrast and in rebuttal to Pelagius, a simple summary statement teaches us that the Augustinian system gives full prominence to the Biblical teachings of Sin, Grace and Salvation as taught in Romans and Ephesians:

· The individual is lost in sin and rebellion against God as a function of the heritage from Adam and will not seek God.

· His fallen will is so corrupted that he cannot seek salvation, that salvation and the turning to the way, Jesus Christ, is completely based on God’s Grace.

A major Scriptural passage supporting Augustine’s rebuttal is the often recited verses from Romans 5:15-21:

“But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by transgression of the one many died (Adam’s initial sin of disobedience), much more did the Grace of God and the gift by Grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to many.

And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned (Adam); for on the one hand the judgment arose from one transgression (Adam’s fall) resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift (of Righteousness) arose from many transgressions resulting in justification. For if by the transgression of one (Adam’s disobedience), death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of Grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.

So then as through one transgression
(Adam’s) there resulted condemnation to all men (the Adamic Sin heritage), even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. For through the one man’s disobedience (Adam’s) the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.

And the Law came in that the transgression might increase; but where sin increased, Grace abounded all the more, that, as sin reigned in death, even so Grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Augustine further prescribes that the reason that some are saved and others are not is based on God’s purpose, His eternal decree that some sinners are saved and others are left in sin according to the important and controversial doctrine of Predestination as cited in Romans 8:28-29:

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren;”

Put yourself in Augustine’s place, fifteen hundred years ago. Given that you believe in His Word, how would you decide considering the Pelagian thesis?

The Pelagian thesis reveals the natural inclination to think of the mass of humanity as being good, favoring an idealistic view of mankind that ignores its underlying propensity for selfism and pride, the Adamic heritage, the initial disobedience.


The following summary juxtaposes the Pelagian and Augustinian positions before considering the evolution of Semi-Pelagianism and other compromises developed over fifteen hundred years on the question of God’s Grace versus Man’s/Woman’s freedom as provided by their free will.

Augustinian Divine Monergism: The doctrine that regeneration is the work of the Holy Spirit alone, and that the human will, having no inclination to holiness, is incapable of assisting or co-operating. Advanced by Augustine, divine Monergism gives God all the glory and makes freedom itself a result of Grace.

Pelagian Human Monergism: Ascribes the chief merit of conversion to mankind, and reduces Grace and the role of the Holy Spirit in relationship to the initiative determined by mankind’s will in achieving regeneration.

The Pelagian thesis was condemned at the synod of Diospolis in 415 A.D., approximately sixteen hundred years ago!



Semi-Pelagianism is a reaction against Augustine’s developed teachings that put down the Pelagian thesis and its system of thought. Because of the dialectical quality of the Augustine/Pelagius confrontation (i.e.: The Pelagian thesis versus the Augustinian antithesis), Semi-Pelagianism represents a biased synthesis swaying the argument from:

· the totality of Grace and election, as the determiner in bringing nonbelievers to Belief (the Augustinian antithesis),

· to a greater balance in favor of the freedom and moral quality of mankind to consciously believe and repent (a “swaying” to the Pelagian thesis).

Semi-Pelagianism establishes a compromise whereby Divine Grace and the human will jointly accomplish the work of conversion and sanctification, and that mankind must take the first step because the individual has the free will to decide.

The Semi-Pelagian system rejects:

· The moral soundness of mankind as advocated by Pelagius, but admits his moral ability to choose.

· The Augustinian teaching of the entire moral corruption and bondage of unbelieving mankind to sin.

· The Pelagian conception that Grace is an external auxiliary and not a principle efficacious attribute of God’s will.

· The Augustinian teaching of the sovereignty, irresistibleness and the limitation of Grace to the elect, those predestined by God.

All of this suggests a returning to the essential teaching called Greek Synergy. The Greek Church held that the human will and divine Grace were coordinated in the work of conversion. That is simplistic enough, but the obvious question arises where is the emphasis? Is the conversion experience a result of the human will or of God’s Grace? How big a factor is the sin nature? How does the Holy Spirit interact with the nonbelieving soul if it interacts in any event? Who directs the coordination, the human will or the Holy Spirit? Or is believing merely a psychic quirk where the believer to be takes the initiative to believe, independent from the inspired leading of His Holy Spirit?


The Semi-Pelagianists were quick to make clear that the major problem with the Augustinian stance on predestination is that it leads to the inevitable and not unreasonable conclusion, by logical deduction, that while some are elected and saved others are reprobated by God to be left in sin, even though there is no Scripture stating directly that some (nonbelievers) are predestined by God to be lost.

This conclusion is fundamental to the anti-Pelagian, anti-semi-Pelagian findings of Gottschalk, a Benedictine monk who lived in the period 803 - 869.

He revived the Augustine teaching on predestination by emphasizing the concept of “double predestination” as a result of an intense study of Augustine. His view was that:

· God foreordains those he wishes to heaven and hell.
· God does not will that all are to be saved.
· Christ died for the elect.

Gottschalk’s view was not well received! Not relenting from his belief, Gottschalk was condemned at the Synod of Mainz in 848, beaten until almost dead and imprisoned for life.

He confirmed that a number of believers sincerely accepted the conclusion that Double Predestination was a fundamental dogma of God, to the extent that they willingly became martyrs in its defense.

Christian history pays a small tribute to this man by its recollection of this event. Such love and conviction has been the infrequent but sincere testimony of many true believers, a number of whom were judged as heretics by their contributions to the evolution of a maturing Christian doctrine.

For it is by placing Scriptural facts against speculative idealism, Biblical knowledge against wishful philosophy, that sound doctrine is developed.

Acknowledging this, history shows that Pelagius’ error was that he didn’t understand Romans. Gottschalk’s problem was that he knew that Augustine did!

Like a beacon, it shines; guiding fools and scholars alike. A beacon of the Truth; by which heretics stumble; false doctrines expire; correct doctrines flourish. God’s standard of Righteousness, so that we can know ourselves, His Son, His Spirit, His Truth. So that we may, by personifying His Grace, be resolved in glorifying Him. Romans!



Peter the Lombard died in 1164. He was the father of Systematic Theology. His teachings included the Four Books of Sentences treating the Triune God, Created Beings and Sin, the Christian Virtues, the Decaloge (the Ten Commandments), and the Sacraments with some questions in Eschatology. They were the fundamental discipline for students of theology from the 12th through the 15th centuries when superseded by Calvin’s Institutes in Protestant Christianity.

He originated the Catholic religious practice of seven sacraments. These were confirmed by the Council of Florence in 1439, almost three hundred years after his death on the eve of the Reformation!

Firmly of the Augustine tradition, he, nevertheless, was accused of some semi-Pelagian sentiments, probably because he held the Sacrament to be not only a “visible sign of a visible Grace” (Augustine) but also the effective cause of that Grace. This became a critical issue when the Reformists insisted on two Sacraments, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, which are the general religious practice in Protestant Churches today. These two Sacraments are Bible based. The other five practiced by the Catholic Church are held to be devised thus tainted by the Pelagian imperative honoring mankind’s initiative. Other noted teachings of Lombard are:

· By the fall, mankind suffered injury as from a wound, but not deprivation of all virtue (A Semin-Pelagian leaning).

· God knew mankind would fall, but we do not know why He did not prevent it.

· The root of Sin is concupiscence (selfism, sexual desire). Original Sin is handed down by the medium of the body and becomes operative on the soul because of the body.

· God’s predestination of the elect is the cause of good in the elect. It is not based on any foreseen goodness that they may have.


Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) is considered to “the most eminent divine” after Augustine. He retains this distinction today in the Roman Catholic Church. His works are replete with reference to the works of Augustine. On matters pertaining to Sin and Grace, he was considered a Semi-Pelagian by the protestant Christian historian, Philip Schaff.

The reason for this accusation probably lies in the fact that Aquinas was the “prince” of the scholastic Schoolmen, whose penchant for speculation, rationalization and intellectual “reachings” far surpassed the standard of Pelagius with the very important exception that they tended to respect Scripture and the teachings of Augustine.

But the speculations, rationalizations and reachings did incline towards abstractions that tended to obfuscate and deny many real problems and excesses affecting the Church. Therefore, there was the Semi-Pelagian charge that suggested a drifting away from the solid standard admired by the Protestant Reformists.

Schaff informs us, “The protestant reformers, in their indignation against the Scholastic theology, could not do justice to Thomas Aquinas. Luther went so far as to call his ‘Summa’ the quintessence of all heresies, meaning Papal doctrines. He spoke of him as ‘the fountain and original soup of all heresy, error, and Gospel havoc, as his book bears witness.’”

We must remember that Luther did not lack an enthusiasm for diatribe when motivated. Don’t forget that he didn’t exactly admire Calvin either!
The present historical estimate is much more kind, for Aquinas was an extraordinary man who measures with the standard of relevance accorded Augustine, Luther and Calvin following the teachings of Paul.

Aquinas acknowledged that the cause of Adam’s fall, the original Sin was self love, Pride. As an acknowledged teacher, Calvin probably incorporated his views as an extension of Augustine’s teachings.

A number of Aquinas’ teachings follow. They speak for themselves as a follow-on, a bridge from the Gottschalk controversy to the expansive Augustinian based theologies of Luther and Calvin. They are framed by the theological influence of Peter the Lombard and John Duns Scotus, who follow. From his Treatise on Grace:

· For the knowledge of any truth whatsoever mankind needs Divine help.

· Mankind needs God’s help, God’s Grace, to move mankind to love God.

· Without Grace mankind cannot merit eternal life.

· The preparation of the will by Grace is twofold: to be right and enjoy God; to prepare the will to receive Grace.

· Mankind’s turning to God is by free choice, but only when by His Grace that He turns it.

· Mankind can do nothing unless moved by God.

· Mankind by himself can in no way rise from Sin without the help of Grace.

· Mankind’s corrupt nature needs Grace to heal its nature.

Regarding perseverance:

· Perseverance is sought even by those who are hallowed by Grace.

· Mankind, when possessed by Grace, needs perseverance to be given to it by God.

· After anyone is Justified by Grace through Faith, that person must beseech God for the gift of perseverance.

· By the Grace of Christ many receive the gift of Grace whereby they may persevere, and the further gift of persevering. Thus Christ’s gift is greater that Adam’s fault.

Regarding God’s providence, in respect to predestination and reprobation, especially regarding mankind’s eternal salvation:

· All the good that is in things has been created by God.

· All things are subject to Divine providence.

· For it belongs to Divine providence to order all things.

· Predestination presupposes election in the order of reason, and election supposes God’s Love.

· Predestination presupposes God wills the salvation of the elect and is a part of God’s providence.

· He wills this good to some in preference to others, sinceHe reprobates some.

· There is no distinction between what flows from free choice and what is of predestination. That which flows from free choice is also of predestination.

· He predestines by means of His mercy, in sparing them; and in respect of others, whom He reprobates by means of His justice, in punishing them.

· Why He chooses some for glory and reprobates others has no reason except the Divine will.


Accused by Luther of reviving Pelagianism by emphasizing the freedom of the will and the natural powers of mankind, John Duns Scotus, a Scotsman, D.1308, was one of the last of the scholastic theologians of the Medieval period starting with Lombard, reaching its pinnacle with Aquinas. Contrary to any Pelagian leaning, he held that:

· The controlling element in the divine nature is the will of God.

· To submit to the will of God is the highest goal the human can reach.

· The will of God determines the salvation of mankind.

· The predestination of the elect is an act purely of God’s determination (and His Grace).

· The non-elect are reprobated in view of their foreseen demerit.

Luther’s criticism may have been inspired by the fact that Duns Scotus taught that the Scriptures contain what is to be believed, but the authority of the Church, controlled by man, establishes what Truth is. In other words, Belief in the Scriptures rests ultimately on the authority of the Church.

This is a major division point between Catholicism and the Protestant Churches, which holds the Scriptures to be the supreme authority, not man, or traditions created by man.

Further, he was the father of the Immaculate Conception doctrine.

He did differ with Augustine in holding that the human will is free and that, more importantly, Adam’s sin was not passed to his descendents - a certain Pelagian error.

Don Scotus’ wisdom and attitude on predestination is confirmed by the following story:

“On one occasion he stopped to speak to an English farmer on the subject of religion. The farmer, who was engaged in sowing, turned and said, ‘Why do you speak to me? If God has foreknowledge that I will be saved, I will be saved whether I do good or evil.’ Duns replied: ‘Then, if God has foreknowledge that grain will grow out of this soil, it will grow whether you sow or withhold your hand. You may as well save yourself the labor you are at.’”


John Calvin (1509-1564) was a Frenchman, a scholar, a studious Catholic who fathered what is now called the Reformation. His doctrinal system combined predestination with the certainty of salvation, in contradiction to the Catholic dogma, which does not promise this comfort. In this sense, Calvin carried the doctrine beyond the teaching of Augustine, who subscribed to the uncertainty of salvation as an incentive for pursuing holiness.

The question on what is the constitution, the predicate of salvation is a significant question that divides the Christian Church today. Are believers saved when they come to Belief and are given the gift of Faith? Is this salvation secure? Does the Holy Spirit’s sealing make salvation secure? Or, must the believer persevere independent of God’s Grace? Is salvation a later event that must be earned? Is there some middle ground such as taught by many, that there is an initial salvation followed by a progressive phase that leads to a final salvation? If salvation is obtained under any teaching, can it be lost?

The hard view of Calvin’s teaching, like Gottchalk’s followed by Aquinas’, means God’s judgment is that some are predestinated to eternal life while others to death. It concludes a twofold decree where some are elected into holiness and salvation and others are reprobated into death because of sin and guilt.

Calvin was very definite on the question of salvation. One was elected and that election was never to be lost because of God’s predestined plan. As noted, Aquinas did not subscribe to this thesis, stating explicitly that perseverance was not assured!

The doctrine of predestination is a hard teaching for many believers, those who are saved (or, are being progressively saved!) and do not have the problem of not being saved. They feel that it is difficult to understand why God would deny anyone the opportunity to know Christ.

The predestination teaching flies in the face of the evangelical instinct to convert nonbelievers that includes the theoretical majority who are not chosen, not elected, not ordained by God to be His.

Of course, this question creates no regard or uncertainty on the part of nonbelievers who, by choice, do not care and are not concerned about their salvation, who, in fact, think that such interest on their behalf by believer’s is “foolishness” (1Cor 1:18).

Contrasting this hard interpretation of Paul shared by Augustune, Aquinas and Calvin, a moderate and contemporary Arminium view provides a softer, compromised teaching on predestination, rationalizing the importance of God’s foreknowledge:

· God in His omniscience has foreseen how all individuals will respond to the offer of the gospel.

· He has predestined to eternal life those whom he has foreseen responding in Faith and obedience.

What is the Truth? Those who defend double predestination with its doctrine of reprobation cite the important teaching in Romans 9: 10-24. It is the same Scripture guiding Augustine, Aquinas, and Calvin!

“And not only this, but there was Rebekah also, when she conceived twins by one man, our father Isaac; for though the twins were not born, and had not done anything good or bad, in order that God’s purpose according to His choice might stand, not because of works, but because of Him who calls, it was said to her, ‘THE OLDER WILL SERVE THE YOUNGER.’ Just as it is written, ‘JACOB I LOVED, BUT ESAU I HATED’ (Mal 1:2).

What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! For He says to Moses, I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION.’ So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs but on God who has mercy.


So He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires. You will say to me then, ‘Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?’

On the contrary, who are you O man and woman who answers back to God. The thing molded will not say to the molder, ‘Why did you make me like this, will it?’ Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make the same lump one vessel for honorable use and the other for common use?

So what if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? And He did so in order that He might make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, even us, whom He also called, not from among the Jews only, but also among the Gentiles.”



The Aquinarian, Calvinistic and Lutherean systems of theology are based on the teaching of the revered Augustine. Because of this fact, the four systems of theology are closely allied, with the important qualification by Luther on the priority of the doctrine of predestination, a primary teaching of Augustine and Aquinas which was elaborated and enhanced by Calvin.

While summaries do not do justice to the depth of the teachings of the two great reformers (This document is not intended to be a treatise on Reformation Theology.), Calvin made election, Luther made the justification by Faith, the primary basis for being chosen in terms of God’s predestinated, foreordained plan. Each attempted to improve on the teaching of Augustine and Aquinas.

Calvin relied on his view of the unchangeable decree of God on election and predestination. Luther relied on the importance of saving Grace through the righteousness obtained by Faith. Both systems stressed their teachings in an atmosphere of contention and dissatisfaction affecting the Roman Catholic Church, which upheld a practical dogma that de-emphasized Grace and stressed human works.

The Church’s teaching on “works” was done with the determined ecclesiastical objective that greatly qualified the doctrine of perseverance, the assurance of being delivered. Protestants maintain this is not Scriptural, and was done to provide a “fearful” incentive for the believer to earn final salvation and to avoid eternal damnation.

These four men were intense in their dedication to God. Each made prodigious contributions to Christian thought and knowledge. Each embraced the teaching of Paul in Romans as being the divine guide in the development of the doctrines of Anthropology and Soteriology. And because of this, each stressed the doctrines of Sin and Grace, the impotence of mankind in reaching God, the omnipotence of God and His plan for the ages, the very sinfulness of sin as a heritage from Adam’s fundamental disobedience, and the absolute role of Grace in the regeneration of men and women.

They made extraordinary contributions to the intellectual formulation of church doctrine and practice in specific time periods: Augustine from the 5th century to the 16th century; Aquinas from the 14th century; Luther and Calvin from the 16th century to the present age.

The heritage is clear: from Paul to Augustine, then Aquinas to Luther and Calvin in the Protestant tradition. It includes Aquinas and ignores Luther and Calvin in the Catholic tradition. The parallel heritage for Pelagius starts with his misinterpretation of Paul. This survived because of anti-Augustinian rancor, which inspired the Semi-Pelagianism rebuttal to Augustine’s powerful doctrines on Grace and predestination. The heritage was finally embraced by Aminianism as an evolved reaction to Calvin. More on Arminius will follow.


The teaching of these revered men of God may be summarized as follows (it is also Aquinas’ belief!):

· God has from eternity foreordained all things that should come to pass, with a view to the manifestation of His glory.

· He created mankind pure and holy, and with freedom of choice.

· Adam was tried, disobeyed, lost his freedom, and became a slave of sin.
· The whole human race fell with him and is justly condemned in Adam to everlasting death.

· God in His sovereign mercy elects a part of this mass of corruption to everlasting life.

· Without any regard to moral merit, He converts the elect by irresistible Grace, justifies, sanctifies and perfects them.

· He thus displays in them the riches of His Grace.

· In His inscrutable, yet just and adorable counsel, he leaves the rest of mankind in their inherited state of condemnation.

· He reveals in the everlasting punishment of the wicked the glory of His awful judgment.


Augustine’s system, developed in response to the Pelagian thesis, inspired centuries of theological acrimony and debate. The dialectics of this confrontation, including compromised specifications of Semi-Pelagianism and Semi-Augustinianism, carried down and through the 17th Century heightened by the Gottschalk and Jansenist controversies of 853 and 1653.

Calvin’s system, in turn, was effectively opposed by the Arminians, the Quakers, and the Methodist, each opposition sharing and echoing the heritage of the Grace/Sin/Freewill semi-Pelagian heritage, with a stringent disagreement on the doctrine of predestination and election as advocated by Calvin.

The principle thesis of the anthropological and soteriological doctrines, as evolved by these giants of the Christian Church, is the universal damnation of the whole human race on the sole ground of Adam’s sin.

This conclusion is troubling by itself for those who have a grander view of humanity, and it is particularly repulsive in that it includes innocents, infants and all those in far lands who have never heard of Adam. There is no wonder that it inspired disagreement by those who had a greater hope, and/or an ignorance of what Scripture teaches.

The sensible argument is made as to how one reconciles this view with the justice and mercy of God? And why would He decree the damnation of all these souls when with His omnipotence He could persuade them to Belief, Faith, Righteousness and Salvation? This is serious stuff indeed, if one chooses to take it seriously!

As suggested before, the rub lies in the fact that those who do not believe in Him do not care one way or another. It means nothing to them! So like the grass in the field (Psalms 90:5-7), their destiny is a short term on earth ended by death, while those who do believe, and who express the great legitimate concern for those not chosen, have eternal life (Rom 6:23).

The Scriptures paint a clear picture of God’s will on these matters. There is no mystery in the fact that He wills as Augustine and Calvin confirm. There is no question that this determination is supported by Scripture:

Isaiah 46:10 “I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.”

This mystery about God’s purpose, when thought out, is often disguised in a reaction of amazement and humble thanksgiving on the believer’s part, for being “called according to His purpose,” elected according to His plan of predestination:

Rom 8:29,30 “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren; and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.”



The Dutch Jansenists movement excited continued study of the conflict between Pelagius and Augustine and resulted in the political recognition of an independent bisphoric in the “Old Catholic Church.” In 1653 Pope Innocent X condemned five propositions allegedly extracted from a book title “Augustinus” written by a Dutchman, Cornelius Jansen (1585-1638). These propositions allegedly affirmed that:

· God’s commands cannot be fulfilled without Grace. Grace is irresistible.

· Fallen mankind is free from coercion, not from necessity.

· The Semi-Pelagians’ error was denial of the irresistibility of Grace.

· It is Semi-Pelagian to say that Christ dies for all mankind.

The battle raged on over centuries, effecting the fundamental precepts of the growing Christian Church, especially the emerging Protestant dominations, but least of all the Eastern Orthodox Church, whose theology was retarded by the Islamic incursion and a propensity for extreme conservatism in ritual and dogma.


The rise of Arminianism in the early 17th Century (1610) presented the greatest challenge to the Augustine heritage and the pervasive, controversial theology of Calvin. It presented a revival of the one thousand year old fruits of the Pelagian system, recapitulated by Jacob Arminius’ (1560-1609) followers.

Like Cornelius Jansen (1585-1638), Arminius was a Dutchman and a contemporary fellow theologian, who preceeded Jansen in this life by approximately twenty five (25) years.

The Arminian theology proposed a radical view of predestination on the grounds that it lacked a Christ centered “Christocentric” focus. Since Christ was not the foundation for election, according to the Calvinistic system, but was only a subordinate follow-on to a foreordained salvation, what is the meaning for Christ’s ministry when the elect are to be saved in any event? In other words, why Christ when His elect will be saved anyway? This concern led Arminius to change the priority of election and Grace from the Reformist view that election preceded Grace to the shocking thesis that election followed Grace! The Arminian system held that:

· God decrees to save all who repent, believe and persevere.

· Election is conditional on mankind’s response, dependent on God’s foreknowledge, mankind’s Faith and perseverance.

· The possibility of a true believer totally or finally falling from Grace and perishing is not denied.

There is no assurance of ultimate salvation.

· Man’s/woman’s will is free. God’s will can be resisted.
God gives sufficient Grace so that man/woman can believe if they so will.
· Redemptive Grace is universal, offered to all, and is not particular, it is not offered only to the elect.

In regards to the predestination thesis, Arminius condemns this by, in effect, concluding that God does not choose anyone but foresees that some will choose Him. This means that God’s chosen choose Him.

The confusion continues: The Arminius views were formally developed by His followers in the Remonstrant Articles of 1610, as follows:

· Predestination is conditional on a person’s response, being grounded in God’s foreknowledge.

· Christ dies for each and every person but only believers are saved.

· A person is unable to believe and needs the Grace of God. This Grace is irresistible.

· Whether all the regenerate will persevere requires further investigation.
These Articles were condemned by the Synod of Dort in 1618-1619:

· The Arminians were rightfully accused of adopting a Semi-Pelagian view of Grace.

· They were accused of destroying the doctrine of assurance by questioning perseverance.

· They were accused of endorsing a conditional gospel message which undermined the doctrines of atonement and justification.

Those opposed to Arminianism were rightly concerned over the possible additional erosion in reformist doctrine stimulating further divergence of the protestant movement. Despite this fact, the Arminian thrust became a pervasive influence as Protestantism spread throughout the world. For many, Arminianism became a rebellion against the teachings of Calvin, a reaction to the harsh teaching that spells the terminal fate of reprobates who are not elected of God.


Arminius and Jansen teach us a great lesson on the vagary of the Pelagian/Augustine controversy, a millennium, one thousand years after it commenced. Arminius, a protestant, held a Catholic leaning in doctrine while Jansen, a Catholic, embraced the Augustinian view that was most closely allied to Calvin’s.

We could learn much from this irony.

John Wesley (1703-91) and the Methodist movement are credited for the growth of the fundamental precepts of Arminianism. “Wesleyan Arminianism” taught that:

· Depravity was total, affecting every facet of man’s and woman’s being.

· There was a requirement for God’s Grace if one was to believe.

· Synergism, acting for the work of Christ, was related to and could be applied to all of mankind.

· Christ may deliver all from Adam’s guilt, providing people appropriate (receive, accept) His Grace.

· The possibility of a person falling from Grace was expressly accepted. There can be an assurance of an initial salvation but not of an ultimate salvation.

God’s will - mankind’s freedom and free will to choose - the concept of sin - its historic roots with Adam - the loving invitation to attain Belief by Jesus Christ - the characterized love and mercy of God balanced against His wrath - God’s plan for the ages - His rightful determination that He will be glorified - that He will glorify His elect, all of these, and a multitude of other considerations, leads the student of His revelation, the believer in His Word, to read carefully His inspired teachings on all of this.

These teachings have been debated through the last fifteen hundred years...with a decisive impact on Church dogma and doctrine of the various Christian religions. Let us summarize what we have learned so far on this important and complex consideration of Sin, Grace, and Salvation:


It should be obvious that Predestination is a real and controversial teaching of the Christian Church. Its teaching is the core of how God’s plan of salvation is administered. It defines the nature and application of God’s grace.

The Bible provides extensive guidance in Romans 8:28-30; 9:9-24, Acts 2:23;22:10, and Ephesians 1:3-14; 3:11 on this teaching.

Religions do, in a sense, “mask” this teaching for it rips at a central question as to God’s sovereignty compared to mankind’s control of the Church.

This doctrine has evolved from the fifth century to the present time, and has been a key theological issue that has divided Christendom in the definition of separate religions. This ancient deliberation may be partially summarized for the reader by considering the theological doctrine called the Covenant of Grace.

God’s plan of salvation for mankind - the great redemptive work of Christ - is properly called the Covenant of Grace. That covenant, between God and mankind, is based on the promise of salvation and eternal life, on the part of God, and the condition of belief and obedience, on the part of mankind.

It is called a covenant since the plan of salvation is presented in the Bible with parties, mutual promises or stipulations, and conditions.
Mankind by its heritage of imputed unrighteousness from Adam, is lost in sin and misery, subject to God’s wrath, and perishes in this state. This state persists except for God’s plan of salvation which is moved by His compassion for the lost. To alleviate this historic tragedy, God sent His Son to assume mankind’s nature with the objective of suffering rejection and experiencing a painful physical death providing forgiveness and the basis for the justifying gift of righteousness and faith in His promises.

In summary, the manifestations of God’s Grace take the form of:

1) An “unmerited” love by God for troubled nonbelievers, who languish in disbelief, who wish for help, who are not evil, who are willing to confess and repent.

2) The supernatural influence of the Holy Spirit in leading nonbelievers to Belief and maintaining the believer’s walk in redemption and a progressive sanctification.

3) Spiritual blessings in the form of the fruit of the Spirit in the believer.

4) The specific salvific gifts of Faith (Eph 2:8) and Righteousness (Rom 5:17) to the believer through rebirth in Jesus Christ.

In considering the Covenant of Grace, as it is applied by various religions, the core debate forming the doctrines of Anthropology (the doctrine of mankind), Harmartiology (the doctrine of sin), and Soteriology (the doctrine of salvation) takes form in the confrontation between Pelagius and Augustine. The net differences of the theological debate represented by the Pelagian thesis as opposed by Augustinianism are:

1) The plan of salvation, or covenant of grace, has provision for all mankind (Pelagian) or is particularized to that “ predestined” portion of mankind (the elect) who are actually saved (Augustine).

2) It is disputed whether Man (Pelagian) or God (Augustine), determines who are saved and subject to the Covenant of Grace.

Historically, the Augustinian system held within the formal Catholic Church starting in the fifth century until eroded and compromised by the Semi-Pelagian influence which became paramount in the Gottschalk tragedy in the ninth century.

In the sixteenth century, following the Pelagian influence, the Arminians held that salvation is by works in that mankind must take the initiative to find God by Faith, that the Covenant of Grace assumes mankind’s initiative and is not totally dependent on the moral incapacity of mankind and God’s election.

This was a specific reaction to Calvinism within the reformation movement. The sister to the Lutheran reformed movement, Calvinism is consistently and strongly Augustinian holding that God is sovereign.

Following this, Wesleyan Arminianism held that the covenant was exercised through the use of the sufficiency of grace extended through the work of Christ and the influence of the Holy Spirit.

Lutherans join a consensus that God has the serious purpose to save all mankind; that Christ died equally for all. That salvation and the covenant is joined by those who hear and believe the gospel and are thereby given the gift of Faith. That mankind does not have the power to believe, that they have the power of effectual resistance, and those who resist perish.

Charles Hodge states in his Systematic Theology, “the question which of these systems is true is not to be decided by ascertaining which is more agreeable to our feelings or the more plausible to our understanding, but which is consistent with the doctrines of the Bible and the facts of experience.”

The question lies formidably in the understanding of the reader. Who is sovereign, mankind or God? What does the Bible teach us regarding God’s plan of salvation and the Covenant of Grace?

It is interesting that the Catholic Church and the reformed Churches (represented by Presbyterian, Methodist, Episcopal, Baptist, Congregationalist) share in the heritage of the Pelagian/Augustinian controversy, and the intellectual shaping of doctrines established by its understanding.

This sharing, along with the Trinitarian and Christological resolutions, is a formidable base of common “tradition.” These common doctrinal foundations are shared between the Roman Catholic and Protestant Movement. These traditions are not shared by Mormonism, Jehovar’s Witnesses, Christian Science and other cults that renounce these historic doctrines.

It is a fitting to quote the great Christian historian, Philip Schraff, as a conclusion to this consideration of the Covenant of Grace:

“The subjective principle of Protestantism is the doctrine of justification and salvation by faith in Christ (the Covenant of Grace); as distinct from the doctrine of justification by faith and works or salvation by grace and human merit. Luther’s formula is sola fide (by faith alone). Calvin goes further back to God’s eternal election, as the ultimate ground of salvation and comfort in life and death. But Luther and Calvin meant substantially the same thing, and agree in the more general proposition of salvation by free grace through living faith in Christ (Acts 4:12), in opposition to any Pelagian or Semi-Pelagian compromise which divides the work and merit between God and mankind. And this is the very soul of evangelical Protestantism.”


It is the writer’s personal observation that the paramount issue is the Pelagian Inclination. And what does that mean? Simply stated, the Pelagian Inclination is a concept that attempts to put into perspective a number of erroneous propensities shared by many individual and collective groups of believers.

It can be described as an attraction to a particular activity that represents a leaning away from the Spirit of God. It is the “man-centered” inclination that persisted in the Gnostic heresies of the first and second centuries.

In a sense, it is the flavor of thinking that disputed the identity of Jesus Christ as a divine human being because of the human inclination that can not reconcile or identify with both a human and a divine person.

It is the predisposition that when “push comes to shove,” “ when the debate is on the line,” “when the issue is in balance,” the natural inclination is to let the human judgment prevail, to literally ignore or override the Will Of God, to seek the comfort of a human rationalization rather that the search for God’s Will on matters of Faith, customs in the home and daily life, practices and conduct regarding Church, school and governmental affairs.


One blatant example of the Pelagian Inclination is the conclusion that the believer comes to know God and have His gifts of Faith, Righteousness, and Salvation through the believer’s sole choice and determination.

This is an obvious example of the thread of personal human conduct recognized by most true believers as being not right, out of synch, non conforming to most Church standards. But, the Pelagian Inclination would support this mode of thinking. There are many “Christians,” who through ignorance or choice, believe this way.

A second manifestation of the Pelagian Inclination reveals the natural inclination of certain believers to think of the mass of humanity as being good, favoring an idealistic view of mankind that ignores its underlying propensity for selfism and pride, the Adamic heritage, the initial disobedience. Many Churches are full of sincere believers who subscribe to this way of thinking.

One must recognize that there are many “Christians” who do not know the Bible and are ignorant of Scripture. Wouldn’t one expect that these people would be “inclined” to respect the judgment of men and women who possess a natural or official position of leadership, who are of the Pelagian persuasion, even though they do not know it?

A third and most prevalent aspect of the Pelagian Inclination is where the intellectual equilibrium favors man’s or woman’s initiative compared to God’s Will as revealed in Scripture, where the decision balance favors man’s or woman’s will in determining God’s Will in a given problem or situation, where the proverbial straw placed on the camels back is controlled by man, independent from the guiding Spirit of God.

This manifestation, a restatement and reemphasis of the man-centered inclination stated before, is the most insidious, the most difficult to ascertain and correct. It crushes the sweet Spirit of Christ, for it quenches and grieves the Spirit.

It should be noted that the writer does not propose this concept
as a thesis, a lesson or as a sermon. It is his personal
observation only. It is contrived to establish a frame of
reference to a historic on-going practice by believers within the
Church of Christ. The reader may not agree with its premise or conclusion. The writer only asks that the reader consider and respect his point of view given the historic evidence supporting this tendency as defined, formalized and focused by Pelagius.


The Pelagian Inclination echoes the ancient Gnostic heiresses, emphasizing mankind’s special knowledge that thrived before the formal Canon of Scripture. It speaks prominently through Pelagius’ thesis in the contest with Augustine through Semi-Pelagianism, Arminianism or any other system that places the emphasis on man or woman, and not on God, as the focal point.

It favors theological interpretations that respect mankind’s role and dominance, the historic factor which has on occasion, in the writer’s opinion, driven the Church from the guidance of God’s Will and Grace. It seems to happen to all churches of every denomination, large and small. It has predictable effects on church groups and cliques.

It is the cause of major schisms, dissents, heresies and disaffections where either the Church or its members are in error, where to correct the error the Church disciplines the membership, or when the Church is in error, the membership of believers leave the Church. It is a story repeated through history, where the greatest incident was the Reformation. One can call this phenomena by many other names, but the manifestations of the Pelagian Inclination can be clearly seen and defined. Why does this inclination exist?



It appears that the prominent Sin behavior that separates mankind from God, and particularly specifies the Pelagian Inclination, is the artless yet subtle, consistent yet disguised state of ever-present Pride!

It is that aspect of the human nature (the Flesh!) which pretends, in many ways, to have some undefined power in an imagined partnership with God, in some alleged form of command about God and God’s plan. It is the writer’s belief that Pride is the manifestation of the Pelagian Inclination. It is the human attribute absolutely lacking in Jesus Christ!

When man’s or woman’s will intervenes, the intervention is typically done through the agency and energy of Pride, not in the passive yet overwhelming effect of Love (1Cor. 13). It appears that every act of the believer that concludes some responsibility for what happens with God, is based on the motivation of Pride, the Sin that the Bible teaches drove Satan from Heaven, Adam and Eve from the Garden, the Pharisees from the Truth of Jesus Christ. It excites infractions and divisiveness, a problem that is especially prevalent in church organizations where the Spirit of God does not dominate the will of the membership, for one reason or another. 1st Corinthians teaches this great Truth. Pride is the star of all Sins known to the believer.

It is a difficult concept for the active believer to apprehend and understand that his or her efforts in behalf of Christ are the humble exercise of His directions. Pride and pompous authority have no place in the “upside down” reality of God’s order of things, “the first will be last, and the last will be first” (Matt 20:16). The believer is indwelt with the Holy Spirit, Christ and the Father. Believing man’s and woman’s initiative are subject to His Will!


There are two of events when the believer, by the power of his or her will, exercises an initiative regarding God. The first is when one comes to God and by the exercise of the God given free will attains Belief in God the Father and His Son. Chafer teaches us in his Systematic Theology; Volume III; Soteriology:

“It is reasonable to conclude that as man by an act of his own will renounced God at the beginning, in like manner he, by the act of his own will, must return to God. It matters nothing at this point that man cannot of himself turn to God and that he must be enabled to do so. In the end, though enabled, he acts by his own will and this truth is emphasized in every passage wherein salvation is addressed to his will.”

The second event is where the believer exercises its will in the continuing application of Belief. This growing conviction of Belief impounds an increasing knowledge of God the Trinity, guided and confirmed by His Word. The believer becomes one whose conviction is based on a Love and Hope for God, the Father, the Holy Spirit, and the Son, Jesus Christ, who is certain that the Bible is God’s Word, who is convicted of Sin, Justified, made Righteous, and Saved, who is the beneficiary of God’s Grace and has received, among other gifts, the gifts of the conviction of Faith, Righteousness and Salvation, who is filled with and walks with the Holy Spirit.


The filling and walk with the Spirit truly differentiates the individual believer and protects against the propensity of the Pelagian Inclination.
The Bible specifies certain steps a believer should take in order to be filled with the Spirit. A believer should seek to be obedient to the revelation of God regarding the conditions He has set forth in His Word. If the believer meets those conditions, he or she will be filled with the Spirit.

Do not grieve the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:30). What grieves the Holy Spirit is Sin. The cure of the effects of Sin is repentance, which leads to making a genuine confession. (1John 1:6-10) Because sin is a common problem in Christian lives because of the knowledge gained by Belief (Rom 7:7-25, 8:1,2), the Bible suggest three ways it can be prevented: The study of God’s word. Praying for the Spirit’s help. The intercession of Christ as the believer’s High Priest (Heb. 7:25).

A believer should not refuse to let the Spirit of God direct his or her lives. “Do not keep on quenching the Spirit of God” (1Thess 5:19). Grieving the Holy Spirit is the effect after a sin is committed, but quenching the Spirit is what leads to sin in the first place. Though this exhortation is included in a series of exhortations, it obviously relates to the central truth of the necessity of being completely yielded to the will of God in order to experience the filling of the Holy Spirit.

It is by the Spirit’s enablement that the believer will discern and recognize that the Pelagian Inclination typically manifests itself in a collective social environment, where a group of believers fall into error by consensus. The normal propensity is for a group of people, a group of believers, to decide that the group consensus is in fact the Will of God. This is a special problem for groups of Elders and Deacons! One should understand that there is one test in being filled by the Spirit for the individual (not quenching or grieving the Spirit), it is still another test for a group to dispel pride, formidable group pride, to experience the collective filling of the Spirit so that God’s Will, not the individual or group’s will be done. God must be in control if His Will is to be known and exercised. For the exercise of His Will is through the filling of the Spirit in the individual believer and/or a group compromising individual believers!

The true Spirit filled believer knows that God, not mankind, must be in control for the simple reason that the Glory belongs to Him!!! Further, mankind’s glory is derived from God, by God, and only if chosen by Him for His purpose (Rom 8:28-30)! Mankind’s personal and collective glory is only achieved by His Grace!


As stated in the Introduction of this paper, “These extraordinary theological realities:

· The mystery that is God,
· God’s Grace and God’s Wrath,
· His Holy Spirit, and
· The “Way” provided by Jesus Christ in understanding His Church on earth, are a complex of revealed ideas (revealed in the Bible) that are intolerantly considered by nonbelieving man for it is all “foolishness” to him. 1 Corinthians 2:14:
“But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them,”

Why? Because man thinks he has a “free will” and is an heir to the original sin by Adam in the form of his initial disobedience to God.”
It is not lost on the writer, and hopefully not on the reader, that if one is not chosen by God, that person most likely doesn’t care in any event. For it is all, sadly, foolishness in the eye of the nonbelieving individual (1Cor 2:14, above). That person doesn’t believe in Him. How else can we explain that so many who have heard the Gospel do not believe?

On the other hand, if one is chosen, and is perturbed because he or she doesn’t have more control (on any problem or situation) in his or her relationship with God, it is the writer’s belief that person is not filled with the Spirit of God and is suffering the consequences of Sin, the result of His Wrath, for that believer hasn’t got the message. God is the boss! Jesus Christ is Priest, King and Lord! And by His Grace we are saved!

“For into this earthly dilemma of man there comes the love of God, and that love of God, by an act of unbelievable free grace, lifts man out of the consequences of sin and saves him from the Wrath he should have incurred.” Phillip Schaff

1st Thessalonians 1:10: “and to wait for His Son from heaven whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who delivers us from the wrath to come.”

Romans 5:9: “Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.”